Hints from the Health Department. Leaflet from the archive of the Society of Medical Officers of Health. Credit: Wellcome Collection, London
[Report of the Medical Officer of Health for London County Council]
This table shows, therefore, that during the period 1891-6 as compared with the decennium
1881-90 there has been a mean annual saving of 2,461 lives, and that this represents 104,742 years
of " life capital," annually saved to the community. In previous annual reports I have similarly dealt
with the mortality figures of the periods 1891-4 and 1891-5, and it is interesting to compare the
results obtained for the three periods, viz.—
Mean annual number
of lives gained.
Mean annual amount
of "life capital"
Proportion of "life
capital" gained to
each life gained.
1891-4 1,042 79,606 76.4
1891-5 1,304 85,519 656
1891-6 2,461 104,742 42.6
It will thus be seen that the mean annual number of lives saved has increased in each of the
three periods, while the amount of "life capital," in proportion to the number of lives saved, has
decreased, this decrease being particularly marked in the period 1891-6. The latter result is of course
due to fluctuations in the mortality from certain diseases affecting particular ages, and it is of interest,
as an example, to note the fluctuations in the death rates of diarrhoea and influenza in this connection.
The following table shows the mean annual death rates from diarrhoea and influenza in London in the
period 1891-4, and the years 1895 and 1896.
Death rate per 1,000 living.
1891-4 0.60 0.40
1895 0.82 0.49
1896 07.1 0.11
Thus, in the period 1891-5, the proportionate decrease shown in the saving of "life capital,"
compared with the period 1891-4, may be explained by the reduction in the saving of life at ages 0-5 on
account of the high diarrhceal death rate of 1895, while, on the other hand, the increased death rate
in 1895 from influenza, affecting mostly older ages, would tend to neutralize the effect of the high
diarrhoeal death rate on the proportionate saving of "life capital." In the period 1891-6, however, the
high diarrhoeal death rate and the low influenza death rate of 1896 would each tend to reduce the
proportionate saving of " life capital," and to this fact is doubtless in large measure due the greater
decrease in the proportionate saving of "life capital" in the period 1891-6, as compared with the
decrease in the period 1891-5.
The deaths of children under one year of age in the administrative county of London during
1896 numbered 21,740, being in the proportion of 160 per 1,000 births.
The infant mortality in London may be compared with that in other English towns having more than 200,000 inhabitants by reference to the following table—
London had therefore, in 1886-95, a lower infant mortality than any of these towns except
West Ham and Bristol, and in 1896 a lower infant mortality than any except Bristol.
1 See footnote (2), page 8.